Sunday, January 25, 2009


I wish Mommies could get a report card sometimes. I know the areas in which I struggle...places where I need a lot of work and might even be close to a failing grade...but wouldn't it be lovely sometime to get some validation on areas of victory in mothering? Some sort of objective barometer that says that in this particular area, I am doing great. I tend to dwell less on those tiny victories, and I think it would be good, at the end of my day...when I'm laying in bed, worrying over all the mistakes I made that day, ways I wounded my kids or my husband, worrying over all the things I need to do or ways I could possibly mend those wounded hearts would be good in that time for my spirit to find a little victory in my day....remember the places where God helped me to go to sleep with a hopeful and grateful heart rather than a furrowed brow and heavy load on my mind. I have some great girlfriends who I used to meet with in either the wee hours of the morning or the late hours of the night to pray together. We called each other our YaYas and part of our purpose was to pray over our concerns but also to celebrate the ways God gave us victory in our days. It was a good balance. I'm looking for that again. mind is on report cards because my kids came home with theirs this week. I won't go on and on about how they are doing...they run the gamut...but you know...they are all trying and they've all, on their own, improved their grades this year. And it's important to note the words "on their own" because, yes, I was one of those obnoxious, perfectionist parents who used to hover, and I use the word "hover" generously, over their shoulders while they completed their homework, making sure they turned in nothing short of what I could be proud of....I, not they....and I took it very personally if they were not succeeding, and by succeeding, I mean getting As.

BUT, Thank Goodness, I don't do that anymore...because God helped me to use my laziness for GOOD in this area...staying on top of THREE kids' homework while managing a toddler just proved to be too much for my energy level...

And SO, considering all that bad Mommy behavior, I'm in awe that they, of their own effort and their own motivation, improved their grades this year. Without any help (or hindrance) from me.

And I'm proud of them for that.

And I'm proud of myself for backing off.

Especially considering that a year ago, I wrote this while struggling with Jack who was NOT doing well and who I was trying desperately to control and motivate and puppet with no success....
I am forty one years old and experiencing seventh grade all over again. My four children are all in the throes of their public pre-collegiate (she says, hopefully) education and suddenly, rather than sitting back, sipping those lattes while I thumb through the paper and consider which hobby to pursue, as I imagined I would at this point in my life, I find myself submersed in all the rigors of “their” education. Gone are the days of my mother, and her mother, when parents were happily or unhappily surprised at their children’s progress when the report card arrived. They could go about their days, unburdened by the knowledge of their child’s actual progress. They could blithely assume their son or daughter was matriculating well. I have not been afforded such luxury. The arrival this year of Oakwood Schools Online Progress Reports demolished the fine line I had tried to walk between encouraging my children in their schoolwork and taking over responsibility for their schoolwork. Now, I have access to my seventh grade son’s progress on a minute by minute measure. I know if he was late to class, or worse, absent (where on earth was he during fourth period Science?). I know if he forgot to turn in an assignment or if he blew a test. Instead of the loving and enthusiastic, albeit ignorant, cheerleader I had hoped to be for him, I have become his long distance hall monitor, his overburdened (and overbearing) coach and production assistant, his reluctant puppeteer as I try to control his academic pursuits from three blocks away. The minute his daily progress report flashes on the computer screen, my heart is filled with either relief or frustration. It feels wrong.

I never finished writing was just too discouraging. I was on the school's academic progress site daily, sometimes hourly, monitoring Jack's progress and having our relationship tank while I berated him over and over again for failing to live up to my expectations. This year, I gave it up. I finally decided that his education was his education and all my yelling was obviously not going to give him the motivation he needed to excel. And it was killing our relationship.

And this year, on his own, he has turned out the best grades he has had since entering junior high. I am really proud of both of us. Him for stepping up and me for stepping back. Way back. Where I belong. Back into the stands to cheer him on.

So....some big victories on the kids' report cards....and one enormous victory to put on this mama's imaginary report card. The kids have already taken their cards to Krispy Kreme to turn in their As for donuts....if only Krispy Kreme would reward me too. Yummmmmm......

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I had a mammogram yesterday. It was only my second mammogram, but I remember thinking after my first mammogram that I really didn't understand all the anxious hype and hoopla. It had been a little physically uncomfortable and maybe if you felt uneasy getting naked in front of a stranger or having a lady manhandle your breast, it might be a little emotionally uncomfortable too....but beyond that....not a big deal.

I guess my memory is worse than I thought.

Because when describing yesterday's mammogram to my daughters at the dinner table (my son was at a wrestling meet, thus missing the Mammo-chat, for which he is most thankful), I said it was akin to placing your breast on top of an car's open window sill, and then pressing the button to close the window, letting it squeeze the life out of your boob until the window glass jams. Yeah. Yeah. That's pretty much it. I could see from the look on my husband's face that, in his mind, witnessing a mammogram would probably rival witnessing your wife using a breast pump on the Sexy Scale. No one wants to see those things stretched, squashed, and contorted beyond recognition.

My technician today was very sweet, but her only instruction to me besides, "Don't breathe", "Hold still", and "Could you please hold your other breast out of the way" was....."Tell me when it's more than you can bear."

"More than you can bear."

Who can say when something is REALLY more than you can bear? Is it when you feel like your breast might pop? When you start to see stars? Do any of us really know how much discomfort we are capable of bearing? When is too much too much?

I don't know. But I think I surpassed it.

And when I would squeak, "UNCLE!", she would calmly say, "Excellent...hold it...hold it...don't breathe." So it was actually, "ratchet it up to more than you can bear" and then, "bear it for just a few more seconds."


And the hospital gown? After the brief walk to and from the mammography room, really just superfluous. There was so much, "This side", "That side", "Up, Down, Over", that after a while, any attempts at modesty were laughable. The gown ended up hindering more than helping.

Sitting in the little Ladies Area afterward, while I waited to see if re-takes were necessary, I felt a kinship with the other ladies-in-waiting, all of us clutching at our pink gowns which threatened to reveal the sore floppy breasts underneath. There isn't a lot of dignity to be had in the Ladies Waiting Room, but I'm sure there was anxiety and achiness to spare. And lots of good magazines. That's where they've been hiding them. Tricky old ladies.

All in all, a very small price to pay for healthy boobs. And really, the most uncomfortable part of the adventure was peeling off the little "Spee-D-mark" stickers from my, as Gracie would say, "Boobie Stars". Yowza. Not as bad as waxing...but just a little worse than removing a band-aid.


Can't wait for the next mammogram. 42. Just loaded with good stuff.


I spent most of my day Wednesday packin' heat. Of the smelly, steamy, poopy variety. That's right, ladies. For a good portion of the day, I walked around town totin' poop in a lovely handbag which my sister gave me for my birthday to "hip" me up. When she gave it to me, she instructed me to not sling it over my shoulder, or walk with it dangling from my elbow, trying to imitate a pretentious Hollywood diva, or fill it so full that it would not drape just so. I'm sure she never envisioned that she would need to instruct me not to fill it with Waste. I'm not talking about the the kind of waste that you accidentally step in and trail around on your shoe. Or the kind securely wrapped up in a dirty nappy that you forgot to remove from your diaperbag. No, no. This was the real deal. And really, really gross.

I went to the doctor two weeks ago at the insistence of my friends who were concerned that I had not visited the doctor for an "annual" in over four years. They even stood in my kitchen after handing me the phone to dial the doc to make sure that I made the appointment.

At my first appointment at the base Women's Clinic, I waited for a doctor to come and take care of the really private business that even I know better than to write about on this blog. I sat in my paper gown, regretting that I had not exercised, or watched my diet, or lotioned my ash-y legs, or taken care of my pedicure, which was six months old and really, really chippy, and hoped I had put on my paper towel gown correctly. But mostly, I hoped that my doctor would be a girl. You never know who you're going to get in a military base hospital.

But my doctor walked in, told me my gown was NOT on correctly and that his name was Brian. And he had to keep running out to check with his resident to make sure he was saying and doing the right things. Because, apparently, he was not a real doctor yet. Didn't even have the white coat.

At my next appointment, to take care of the REST of the physical, the less embarrassing parts, I made sure to ask how to put on the gown correctly, lotioned up my legs, but still forgot to deal with my pedicure. Which was fine because when the doctor walked in, he was only interested in checking out one particular area and talking about one particular issue from my medical history. I mentioned all my aches and pains and pointed out all my questionable areas, but he attributed them all to age....I got the big, "Let's wait and watch it" diagnosis on every one of my complaints.

No, no. The Good Doctor was having none of that old age malady business. All he was interested in hearing about was my episodes last year with the infernal Pinworms and whether I had ever brought in a sample for analysis....a stool sample. He thought that double checking for parasitic infection would be a great idea. And as he examined me, he was sure to remind me that although this might be terribly embarrassing and uncomfortable for me, HE was a doctor and did this EVERY DAY. And then he asked me to make a follow-up appointment with the nurse, who told me he was only available two days each month because...wait for it....He's a RESEARCH doctor. He doesn't work in a clinic.

So, it turns out that after two trips, I've yet to see a REAL doctor who knows their way around women's parts and women's issues.

See why it took me over four years?

The doctor had suggested that I just give the sample to my husband to drop off in the lab for me, to save me a trip out to the base. He said to make sure it was as fresh as possible.

Let me tell you. John was not into that. He has a cow if I even leave the door open when I'm in the bathroom. He wasn't about to tote around my "sample". He wouldn't even carry it when he escorted me to the lab today. I don't know if I would do it for him either.

Which makes me think that we will be shelling out a lot of dough one day for a home healthcare nurse to come change our diapers.

Oy. Now that stinks.